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August 8, 2014
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The American military effort in Iraq — which officially ended years ago — has begun once again, with today's bombing of ISIS artillery equipment near the Kurdish capital of Erbil in northern Iraq. President Obama has tried to limit the scope of this mission — saying that airstrikes may be necessary to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil, and invoking the humanitarian imperatives of aiding the 40,000 Yazidi Iraqis who face slaughter at the hands of the Sunni jihadist group ISIS.

Still, as John Cassidy writes at The New Yorker, it's not clear when and how the U.S. can declare this mission completed.

Once the U.S. bombing starts, when will it stop? That is one of the many tough questions that Obama and his colleagues will have to answer. Are the sole goals of the mission to help out the Yazidis and prevent Erbil from falling? Or is this the beginning of a U.S.-led effort not merely to halt the advance of ISIS on its eastern front, in the Kurdish region, but to roll it back everywhere in the country? [The New Yorker]

And even though Obama seems loathe to expand America's mission in Iraq, this week's intervention represents a marked departure from Obama's long-held stance on Iraq.

Already, though, one Rubicon has been crossed. A president who came into office on a promise to pull the United States out of Iraq, and who followed through on his pledge, has just ordered more combat operations in, or over, Iraq. [The New Yorker] Ben Frumin

9:31 p.m. ET
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For two hours on Sunday night, every domestic United Airlines flight was grounded due to a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The ground stop was issued at United's request, the FAA said, and international flights were not affected. United blamed the ground stop on "an IT issue," and U.S. officials told NBC News the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was having issues with low bandwidth. The ground stop was originally scheduled to end at 8 p.m. ET, but it wasn't lifted until shortly after 9 p.m. Catherine Garcia

8:47 p.m. ET
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On Monday, a group of well-known Supreme Court litigators, constitutional scholars, and former White House ethics lawyers will file a lawsuit claiming that by letting his hotels and business operations accept payments from foreign governments, President Trump is violating the Constitution, The New York Times reports.

The team will argue that the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution bans payments from foreign entities to Trump's companies, including those from guests at Trump's hotels and golf courses and loans for his buildings from banks controlled by foreign governments. "The framers of the Constitution were students of history," Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers behind the suit, told the Times. "And they understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders." The suit is not seeking any monetary damages, but rather that Trump stop taking foreign payments. Trump's lawyers have said the provision does not apply to fair-market payments, like a standard hotel room bill. Catherine Garcia

12:24 p.m. ET
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Pope Francis said in an interview Sunday it would be unwise to judge President Trump so soon after his inauguration, declining to offer an assessment of the new U.S. administration until more time has passed. "I think that we must wait and see. I don't like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely," Francis said. "We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise."

The pope also issued a warning against turning to magnetic, populist "saviors" in times of fear. "Crises provoke fear, alarm," he mused. "In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. ... A people that was immersed in a crisis, that looked for its identity, until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened." Bonnie Kristian

12:12 p.m. ET

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Andy Marte both died in separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

Just 25, Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008 and finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2014. Marte, 33, was reportedly driving alone when he crashed around 3 a.m. He played seven Major League Baseball seasons, mostly with Cleveland. Bonnie Kristian

11:42 a.m. ET

When President Obama arrived in Washington as a freshman senator from Illinois in 2005, he left an annual income of less than $100,000 from his work in the state Senate and as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Over the course of his 12 years in the District — four in the Senate and eight in the White House — Obama earned about $20 million, mostly from book deals and his government salary. Here's the breakdown from Forbes:


(Forbes)

Michelle Obama, who worked as a lawyer and in Chicago's City Hall before becoming first lady, is herself worth an estimated $11 million, the bulk of which also comes from a trio of lucrative book deals. Bonnie Kristian

11:13 a.m. ET

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said Sunday that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not lie when he claimed Saturday that Trump's inauguration boasted "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," despite evidence to the contrary.

As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd repeatedly demanded that she explain why Trump would ask Spicer to tell a falsehood, Conway brushed aside his concern. "You're saying it's a falsehood," she said, but actually Spicer simply "gave alternative facts."

"Wait, 'alternative facts'?" Todd sputtered in disbelief. "Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods." From there, Conway shifted the discussion to a list of statistics about the state of the nation before suggesting there is no way to really know the truth about the size of the inaugural crowd because "we all know" that type of math is impossible. Watch her comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

10:46 a.m. ET

The new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, insisted Saturday that Friday's inauguration hosted "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," accusing the media of "intentionally" framing photos to make the crowd look smaller. President Trump made the same accusation during his speech at CIA headquarters Saturday, claiming the press reported 250,000 people attended rather than the "million and a half" he personally observed.

On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus argued that to focus on White House complaints about media reports on the size of the crowd is to miss the point. "President Trump said in his inaugural address that every decision he makes will be to benefit American families. How does arguing about crowd size do that?" asked Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. "Because it's really not about crowd size," Priebus answered. "It's about honesty in the media ... [which] from Day One has been talking about delegitimizing the election, talking about the Russians, talking about everything you can imagine except the fact that we need to move this country forward."

Despite his own protests, Priebus soon brought up aerial comparisons of the crowds at President Trump's inauguration and President Obama's event in 2009. "Well, there's another issue here, though, Reince, and that is the president's honesty," Wallace said, pulling up the side-by-side pictures, "because two things that he said yesterday were just flat wrong" — namely his discussion of crowd size and the acrimony between Trump and the intelligence community that Trump now says is a media invention. Watch Priebus' reply, and their full conversation, below. Bonnie Kristian

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